A recent tweet by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema featured a poster for the party’s planned protest march on Friday that found itself being mocked and criticised in numerous ways by controversial columnist David Bullard.
In a Politicsweb column, Bullard criticised the EFF for the recent revelation that the brother of its deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, had repaid millions that were mysteriously paid into his bank account from funds looted from VBS Bank.
He then laid into the party’s leader for urging his followers to disobey the lockdown regulations and march to the offices of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to demand that they allow the use of Russian and Chinese vaccines in South Africa.
Bullard called for the EFF to be “deregistered as a political party ahead of the October elections”, in part because of Malema’s defiance of social distancing rules.
He joked out that “the Commander in Chief even managed to misspell his own organisation’s name, which takes some doing given there are only three letters involved”.
What Malema had, in fact, done was share the party’s poster about the march in which the party was mistakenly referred to as the “EEF”.
Malema urged his followers to join the march “if you are not a coward”.
The EFF wants “Sahpra [to] finalise the approval and authorisation of Sputnik V and Coronavac within seven days, and the government must make these vaccines are available for all the people”.
Lockdowns are no longer a solution… vaccination is the way to reopen the country and the economy. Join us if you are not a coward. All are welcome, irrespective of your religious and political beliefs. #MarchToSaveLives pic.twitter.com/UJci5DPxgq
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) June 19, 2021
The columnist is no stranger to controversy after being fired by the Sunday Times for a column that was allegedly racist. Politicsweb has resisted calls in recent years to also stop giving Bullard a platform.
Meanwhile, in a response to the EFF and other critics, Sahpra this week said it would not be pressured to allow the public access to any product that had not met the necessary regulatory requirements.
So far, Sahpra has only approved the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. It has received applications for the Coronavac (manufactured by Sinovac) and Sputnik V (manufactured by the Gamaleya Research Institute) vaccines.
While the evaluation of the Coronovac application was at an advanced stage, the Sputnik V application is a rolling review, and as data becomes available to the applicant, it is submitted to Sahpra, the health body said.
In a media briefing last week, Sahpra chair Prof Helen Rees said they were still waiting on more information about the Sputnik V vaccine to properly review it.
“What we have to do in case of the vaccines is to ensure they’re safe, of good quality and manufactured properly so that by the time they arrive in the country they still have a very good standard and they’re effective.”
The other concern, according to Sahpra, was the prevalence of variants of concern such as the beta variant in the country.
“This requires that Sahpra ensure efficacy against such variants and hence information on studies supporting efficacy would be expected to be provided by the applicant. Sahpra will not be pressured to allow the public access to any product that has not met the necessary regulatory requirements,” it said.